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VOICE STATEMENT: Why we’re Writing Yes

First Nations people have cared for Country and communities for millennia

They have done so in the face of colonisation, violence and neglect at the hands of generations of Australian policymakers. From massacres and stolen children, wages and land, to over policing and desecration of sacred sites — First Nations people have survived and resisted injustice after injustice, all while generously sharing their rich and ancient cultures with non-Indigenous Australians.

It was First Nations activists who established the first free legal service in Australia, the Aboriginal Legal Service, that went on to lay the foundations for today's network of community legal centres. Their vision, care and action has ensured countless people have had access to justice — a cause close to our hearts at Grata Fund. 

First Nations people know what’s best for their communities, and their leadership makes this country stronger for everyone. Yet their wisdom and unique perspectives are regularly ignored and overlooked, particularly by the decision-makers who make policies about them. 

For First Nations justice and a step towards a brighter shared future, Grata Fund wholeheartedly supports writing YES for a First Nations Voice on October 14. 

We believe providing a constitutional mechanism for First Nations people — custodians of the longest living culture in the world — to be listened to by decision-makers will enrich democracy for us all. 

It’ll mean policies will be better informed by those directly impacted by them, politicians will be more accountable, and the truth about the violent and racist foundations of this country can finally be told.

For a stronger democracy — one that’s guided by First Nations ways of being, doing and knowing — we’ll be writing YES at the October 14 referendum.

The Voice to Parliament is a first step, and it’s not enough on its own. There’s a long way to go to reverse past and present injustices – from facing up to the bloody settler violence of the Frontier Wars, to ending police brutality, racism, and deaths in custody, and respecting First Nations people’s unceded sovereignty and their right to genuine self-determination.

As an organisation, we acknowledge and respect the diversity of views that exist within First Nations communities on the Voice. Each of these perspectives is valuable truthtelling, and offers an opportunity for us all to sit, listen and learn. 

It’s important to take this opportunity to listen deeply and act alongside First Nations people  — now and beyond the referendum.

We recognise that right now is a difficult time for many First Nations people, as non-Indigenous people publicly deliberate on their lives, communities and self-determination, and as they face abhorrent racism. 

It’s up to all of us to firmly and actively stand against racism in the coming weeks and beyond.

A strong YES isn’t guaranteed, so we need to get active. 

Talk to your friends, family and neighbours. Sign up to volunteer. Pamphlet your local suburb. Share information on social media. You can find plenty of helpful information and resources at Yes23 and #WriteYes.

For an effective guide on having powerful conversations about First Nations justice and the Voice, read the Passing the Message Stick research.

Together let’s write YES and set the stage for a decade of transformative change.

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